London, May 6, 2000
Irving ordered to pay £150,000 interim costs
Vikram Dodd, Saturday May 6, 2000
The financial ruin of the pro-Nazi author David Irving came closer yesterday when a judge ordered him to pay an interim sum of £150,000 towards the costs incurred by Penguin Books for his disastrous libel action against charges that he was a Holocaust denier.
Last month Mr Justice Charles Gray found in favour of Penguin, which published a book by the American academic Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust.
The judge found Ms Lipstadt was justified in saying that Irving had falsified history to exonerate Hitler, driven by anti-semitism and his own pro-Nazi views.
Yesterday Mr Justice Gray ordered the author to pay £150,000 by June 17 towards Penguin's estimated £2m legal and research costs. If Irving defaults he could face bankruptcy and the loss of his home.
The court heard that Irving had told reporters he had a fighting fund of more than £300,000 sent to him by supporters around the world.
After the hearing Mr Irving refused to say whether he could or would pay, and said the money in the fighting fund was resting in an offshore account.
Mr Justice Gray rejected claims by Adrian Davies, representing Irving, that any interim costs order could hamper the author's ability to mount an appeal.
Mr Davies had told the court: "Mr Irving has very little prospect of paying more than relatively little of the costs against him."
Heather Rogers, appearing for Penguin, had asked for an order worth £500,000. Mr Justice Gray said Penguin could seek a fresh order for Irving to pay more money if he was denied permission to appeal.
After the costs order was granted Kevin Bays, a solicitor for Penguin, said the publisher hoped to recover £1.5m of its legal and research fees. "On the one hand he says he doesn't have any money, on the other hand he's reported as saying he has 5,000 supporters around the world making donations," Mr Bays said.
He said the point of getting the order was to save Penguin the time and money of compiling a list of all its costs, by seeing if Irving could first pay a fraction of the final bill. "By making this order we'll find out if he has lots of supporters and money. If he doesn't pay the money, we'll have to enforce payment. The ultimate is bankruptcy.
"A trustee in bankruptcy would be appointed to assess any assets he's got. That would include his house."
For yesterday's hearing Irving, who represented himself during the libel trial, hired a solicitor and a barrister.
He said the firm of solicitors he had hired, Goldsmiths, had refused to represent him beyond the costs hearing on "ideological" grounds.
Speaking outside court he claimed this decision would create more anti-semitism. "They said in their letter this was because one partner had 'ideological grounds' objecting to them acting for me."
He added: "They've been pouring slime over me for 30 years." Asked to clarify who he meant by "they", he said: "I don't really want to continue this conversation."
Comment: The Guardian Newspapers Ltd are of course a defendant in the next libel action being brought by Mr Irving, and have every reason to vilify him while they still can.
London, May 6, 2000